6 Reasons Why Beyonce’s ‘Formation’ Is Important

beyonce-formation

Beyoncé is back by popular demand!

On Saturday afternoon, she broke the Internet with her new song “Formation” and its accompanying visual. The nearly five-minute visual, directed by Malina Matsoukas, is filled with powerful imagery related to black culture — and we love it!

Bey doesn’t hold back whatsoever on “Formation.” She lets the world know that she owns her blackness, she knows her history and she wants to see other black people succeed like her. “Formation” may be one of Bey’s most politically charged works to date.

Rated R&B has the six reasons why Beyonce’s “Formation” matters.

1. She doesn’t give a f*ck what you think about her or her family.

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Beyoncé has been radio silent much of that last year, barely giving interviews or addressing rumors and criticism about her life and family. One major topic of discussion in the world of Beyoncé is how she styles her 4-year-old daughter Blue Ivy’s natural hair and her husband Jay-Z’s appearance. Beyoncé boldly proclaims “I like my baby hair, with baby hair and afros / I like my negro nose with Jackson Five nostrils.”

Beyoncé doesn’t stop there with the haters– she let’s them have it even more. She addresses  people who try to attribute her huge success to being a part of the illuminati. “Y’all haters corny with that illuminati mess,” she sings on “Formation.” 

2. She celebrates New Orleans, a decade after Hurricane Katrina.

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Beyoncé returns to Louisiana 10 years after her video “Deja Vu” and a decade after Hurricane Katrina. It’s symbolic because it’s been a decade since the horrific tragedy. The singer brings this to the forefront her heritage and shines a light on the culture of the city while never letting us forget how that natural disaster changed that city forever.

3. She continues to be a voice for modern-day feminists.

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The power in Beyoncé has always been her strong and independent voice as a woman and now feminist. Beyoncé continues to take ownership of her sexuality and doesn’t conform to the traditional roles expected of women in R&B and Hip-Hop culture. Yoncé teases her man singing she’d “might buy him Red Lobster” if his sex is good, totally flipping the script on traditional gender roles and dating.  Not only is Beyoncé twerking, but she’s very socially aware in “Formation” and owning her beauty, sexiness, and power as the Queen.

4. She pays homage to the black gay community.

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Beyoncé has long been an icon in the black gay community. On “Formation” she gives a major platform to popular bounce artists Messy Mya & Big Freedia. The late Messy Mya can be heard on the track, along with Big Freedia who is also very popular among the gay community. The addition of these performers, especially including their voice helps to give the gay/queer culture an even larger platform and shows she respects the community that she is inspired so heavily by in her music and dance.

5. She salutes #BlackGirlMagic. 

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There is some major #BlackGirlMagic displayed in the video. Her amazing dancers are all wearing big beautiful natural hair and powerfully dancing. The video displays an array of black beauty in all shades and hair textures showing just how amazing black women are.

Beyoncé is a powerful, inspirational black woman and rightfully so. She dedicated her life to her career and it has paid off — literally. She is worth over $450 million, according to Forbes. While Bey continues to slay the world, she unites black women on “Formation” and encourages them to slay too. This speaks volumes. For some reason, prominent black women (particularly in entertainment) are pit against each other. Beyoncé brushes it off and says there’s enough room for every black woman to succeed.

6. She makes it clear that Black Lives Matter.

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In the past, Bey has been criticized for not publicly speaking on social issues such as the Black Lives Matters movement. Although she has attended Trayvon Martin’s vigil and reportedly donated money to bail out protesters arrested in police brutality demonstrations. She makes it more clear that black lives matter on “Formation.” From young black kid in a hoodie dancing in front of a lineup of armed officers to showing “stop shooting us” graffitied on a wall, Bey is fed up with cops killing black people for no reason.

Watch the full “Formation” video here.

— Written by Keithan Samuels & Michael Howard

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Top 5 Tracks from Rihanna’s ‘Unapologetic’ Album

Rihanna Unapologetic album

Rihanna has been, is, and will always be a hit maker; There’s a reason why she has fourteen No. 1 singles spanning all the way back to her second album (and just for the record, her debut single “Pon de Replay” peaked at No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.) Coming off her Talk That Talk album in 2011, which featured international hits “We Found Love” and “Where Have You Been,” it was time for Rihanna to take it up another notch when it came to her next album. Working with fresh blood in producers Mike-Will-Made-IT and Labyrinth while enlisting pop mainstays David Guetta and Stargate, the result was Unapologetic: an eclectic mix of EDM, trap, dance, R&B, and pop songs that scaled the musical and lyrical landscape. If this album was an avatar, it’d be “The Last Genre-Bender.”

Unapologetic marked two things: Rihanna’s first artistically complete album and first No. 1 album. While Rated R and Talk That Talk had some “woah” moments, this album found Rihanna elevating her musical core to new heights. She’s still Bad Gal RiRi, but with more wisdom, more vocal strength, and with a newfound sense of artistic confidence. It’s no wonder why it won a Grammy award for “Best Urban Contemporary Album.”

Here at Rated R&B, we’ve compiled what we consider as the best tracks from Rihanna’s seventh studio album. Check out the list below:

“Loveeeeeee Song” (feat. Future)

Future always shines when paired with female artists, but his “Loveeeeeee Song” collaboration with Rihanna might be his best duet to date. The Luney Tunez-produced cut finds the two artists flirting with idea commitment, but being temporarily satisfied with the current arrangement of keeping things purely physical. “I don’t wanna give you the wrong impression / I need love and affection / And I hope I’m not sounding too desperate / I need love and affection,” they sing. On this album full of hard-hitting choruses and club-ready bass drops, this smooth late-night thumper stands out in the best way. Rihanna’s verses and Future’s bridge eventually explodes into a lush, beautifully crafted final chorus between the two of them. If you think “Kiss it Better” is Rihanna’s best bedroom banger, then “Loveeeeeee Song” definitely gives it a run for its money.

“Get It Over With”

While the album spotlights an array of emotional lows and insecurities, there’s a silver lining thanks to this instrument-laden track. Written by Ms. Fenty, Brian Kennedy, and the ever-talented James Fauntleroy, “Get It Over With” is the ballad of broken dreams, but also a song of hope. “It’s dark in the day / I’ll say now don’t complain / Look up the sun is just a cloud away / You’re so afraid to cry / But your heart be feeling dry / It’s time to change,” Rihanna sings in the first verse. Fauntleroy is a master of stacking vocals, so it’s no surprise that we find Rihanna’s background vocals more than on point here. Paired with snaps and solemn violins, this song is the perfect mixture of resilience, strength, and sadness, which is why it makes this list.

“What Now”

Rihanna has mastered the art of emoting over the years, and “What Now” is just one flash of brilliance in her extensive discography. Co-written by fellow Bajan Livvi Franc and British producers Nathan Cassells and Parker Ighile, the song explores the dissatisfaction one feels when they’ve settled, whether that be in love, career, or life in general. “Whatever it is/It feels like it’s laughing at me through the glass of a two-sided mirror/Whatever it is/It’s just laughing at me/And I just wanna scream,” she sings. The lyrics cut just as deep as its smashing chorus, but what really elevates this song is its climax where Rihanna repeats the cadence “I don’t know where to go/I don’t know what to feel/I don’t know how to cry/I don’t know, oh-oh, why!” The winding guitar, raw emotion, and pounding bass culminates into one of the best musical moments on the album.

“Nobody’s Business” (feat. Chris Brown)

Although this collaboration didn’t make as much of a splash as their “Birthday Cake” remix, Chris Brown and Rihanna still shocked fans by linking up on this groovy duet. Co-written by Rihanna and long-time collaborator The-Dream, the song finds the ex-lovers proclaiming their love for each other, and telling off nay-sayers in the process. “You’ll always be mine / Sing it to the world / You’ll always be my boy / I’ll always be your girl / Ain’t nobody’s business / Ain’t nobody’s business / Ain’t nobody’s business / But mine and my baby,” they sing. It’s no surprise that this track contains an interpolation from “The Way You Make Me Feel,” because this euro-dance joint feels like a new-age Michael Jackson record. Breezy and Rih trade parts effortlessly; their natural chemistry is apparent. Even five years later, this song feels fresh, yet timeless, which is why it lands on this list.

“Stay” (feat. Mikky Ekko)

There’s always something special about an artist’s voice over a grand piano, which is more than clear on this tender ballad. Written largely in part by featured artist Mikky Ekko, “Stay” is almost like the continuation of “Loveeeeeee Song,” except with more feelings and time invested. “Not really sure how to feel about it / Something in the way you move / Makes me feel like I can’t live without you / And it takes me all the way / I want you to stay,” Rihanna sings. Even though the song is obviously brilliant, the reason it makes this list is because of Rihanna’s vocal showing. While her voice holds the same type of raw emotion as “What Now,” Rih wields it quite differently, drawing the audience in and pulling away with each sharp breath, vocal crack and sustained note. This all lends itself to the push-and-pull of the actual relationship that the song speaks of, which really speaks to her growth artistically and dedication to the edgier, tougher vision for Unapologetic. Major props go to Kuk Harrell, who is the vocal engineer and producer on this song as well as the entire album.

Stream Unapologetic on Spotify below.

What’s your favorite song on Unapologetic? Let us know in the comment section below!

Stream Lyrica Anderson’s New Album ‘Adia’

Lyrica Anderson Adia

Singer-songwriter Lyrica Anderson has released her latest project titled Adia.

In an Instagram post detailing what the album means to her, she said “This ALBUM Is dedicated to my twin Sister!!! #ADIA Thank You for giving me the strength to get through this Season of life and face everything I’ve been suppressing with that thank you for walking with me and helping me have the strength to share with the world on this season of #Lhhh !! This album is dedicated to you and for YOU!!! Your name means a gift from God in Swahili and you are my gift from God and this is my gift to you!!!!!”

Lyrica’s music career spans back to 2009, but notably begins in 2012 with the release of her “King Me” mixtape in 2012. Over the years, the “Love and Hip Hop: Hollywood” star has written songs for Demi Lovato, Tinashe, and Beyonce. In 2014, she released her debut EP King Me and eventually released her debut album Hello in 2015.

Adia is Lyrica’s second project this year, after releases her Nasha Pearl EP in May. The album is preceded by singles “Don’t Take it Personal,” “Dolla Bills” featuring Ty Dolla $ign, and “Somebody.”

Stream Adia in full below.

Top 4 Deep Cuts from Brandy’s ‘Two Eleven’ Album

 

The “Vocal Bible” nickname has been bestowed upon Brandy for her vocal acrobatics and inexplicable natural ability to sing. However, Brandy Norwood is much more than her voice. In fact, her most redeeming quality is her nuanced storytelling as an artist. Every album that has been graced with those hypnotic eyes of hers has been complete from top to bottom, both vocally and thematically.

While some may argue that Never Say Never and Full Moon are artistic perfection, Two Eleven is too, but with a twist. The beauty of Two Eleven is the multi-edge edge sword of sound that it wields. The album is noticeably handled by hip-hop producers, but thanks to its host of R&B writers, the songs on the album are able to catch the spirit of the R&B genre today — a whole five years ahead of schedule.

If you take a listen to “Hardly Breathing,” do you not hear shades of Dawn Richard? Or maybe if you paid close enough attention to the vocal layering on “Wish Your Love Away,” you would hear the same on Tamar’s latest album. You can even compare “Put It Down” to K. Michelle’s “Either Way.” Aside from boasting the same feature, the candor and aggression in the lyrical content is almost uncanny. This album is for the Sabrina Claudio’s just as much as it is for the Sevyn Streeter’s and even the reaches the artistic bubble of a more established artist like Tamia. In short, Two Eleven, as a whole, is THAT album.

Below, we’ve compiled a list of some of the best deep cuts from the five-year-old body of work. Check  it out:

“Paint This House”

Brandy’s smoky vocals take center stage, backed by her airy background vocals and hauntingly pulsing production from Rico Love, Eric Goudy III and Pierre Moody. On the song, Brandy is in the mood for love-making and some “room redecorating” with her new lover. “And I want these stairs, those walls/Kitchen counters, and those chairs/To remind you of how good it feels/And all of these floors and ceilings/And every hallway, yeah/Not and inch will go untouched/Let’s paint this house with our love,” she sings. With lyrics so obviously sexual, Ms. Norwood brings her signature tender tone to song, creating a sensual jam for any bedroom-thumping situation.

“Slower”

Following a similar narrative as “Paint This House,” Brandy decides to take control this time when it comes to the moment of love-making and passion. “My baby got a lot to learn/Come here let mama bring you up to speed/A couple of changes/A couple of things I want to go over/Couple of hours is all I need/So let’s get it started,” she sings. The genius house production from Dave Taylor both compliments and juxtaposes Brandy’s vocals and lyrics extremely well.

“Without You”

Brandy’s voice takes full flight on this apologetic anthem. “Boy somewhere along the line I lost my way/And I made you pay for the mistakes he made/And I’m sorry baby, cause it shouldn’t be that way/Oh Boy, I really need you, I need you in my life/Cause oh boy I’m nothing, oh no I’m nothing without you,” she sings. Seeing the grave error in bringing baggage from the past into a current relationship, Brandy showcases her vocal power and grit to win her man back. And although we’d love just a piano behind her, the kick-snare and cymbal give this almost-but-not-quite-a-single the touch of bounce that it needs.

“Wish Your Love Away”

Brandy is trying to get over the one that should have been the one on this somber ballad. “I wish that there was no more sleepless nights for me/You can look inside my heart and see/How I’m feelin, baby/Or maybe you just don’t give a damn/Could I be foolish to give a damn, baby?/’Cause I’m to the point where I wish/Boy, I wish that I didn’t love you,” she sings. The track is just so sonically vivid-imagine rain softly falling on your windowpane as this song plays in the background-that it didn’t even need her vocals to be impactful. But, that’s not to say that her vocals aren’t appreciated, especially at the end of the song where the music fades out to just her immaculate vocal layering. Brandy’s resonance both in voice and artistry is perfectly encapsulated by this tune, and hints at how this album will undoubtedly stand the test of time.

What’s your favorite song from “Two Eleven?” Let us know in the comment section below.